Monday, July 13, 2009

Morgan J. Freeman's HOMECOMING: "Misery" meets "Fatal Attraction"

The short memory is as problematic for movies as it is for politics and economics. How else to account for a retread the likes of HOMECOMING, in which a romantically-aggrieved bowling alley/bar owner decides to wreak vengeance on the poor sap (female variety) who's taken up with her ex-boyfriend?

The film's director Morgan J. Freeman (approaching 40) and writer Katie L. Fetting (who's only 32) are old enough to be acquainted with Misery (1990) and Fatal Attraction (1987), the two films most quickly brought to mind by the goings-on in this latest version of one-person-holds-another-prisoner, though Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) and Lady in a Cage (1964) may also pop into the minds of older viewers. This recall will not bode well for the latest version of Homecoming, surely one of the most over-used titles in the lexicon (the IMDB shows 31 movies and TV films of the same name, from all over the globe).

In any case, here we have the lovely Mischa Barton (shown left in the poster, above) menacing the also lovely Jessica Stroup (shown right, above) to the consternation of the stupid boyfriend (played by Matt Long, shown shirtless, at right) and his even dumber best friend and local police officer (Michael Landes, below, left). Coinci-
dence -- a really big one -- helps set things in motion, accompanied by major thoughtless-
ness, which everyone in the movie takes for granted as proper behavior: Would you drop off your best friend's girl-- new in town -- at a motel without even checking to see if there's a vacancy (it's homecoming weekend, to boot!)? Given these little indications of a poorly thought-out screenplay (there are plenty more along the way), the movie proceeds pretty quickly into the area of camp. The younger set, new to this take-a-prisoner genre, may go along for the ride. The rest of us are likely to hoot and holler at will, so perhaps the home DVD player is the proper venue for viewing, rather than a theater, where audiences will be inclined to either shush you -- or join in the hooting.

Ms. Barton does her best with an increasingly crazy and thankless role; Ms Stroup strives gallantly; Monsieurs Long and Landes, saddled with truly terrible roles, fare less well. By the finale, whoever ends up alive and with whom, you are likely to feel that they absolutely deserve each other -- and a better movie next time.

Homecoming opens July 17 in New York (at the Village East Cinemas), Los Angeles (at the Laemmle Sunset 5), and Louisville (at the Village 8 Theaters -- with a limited, cross-country expansion to follow, beginning July 24 in Denver, CO (at the Stars Films Center), and August 14 in Madison, WI, (at the Eastgate Cinemas and the Point Ultrascreen Cinema). Hmmm: two theaters in Madison, Wisconsin. Wonder what that's about?

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